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Updated: May 9, 2023

Welcome back to my new series featuring women of color sipping their way through Virginia wine country (and beyond). This week, meet Janelle Rucker of Burger & Wines. I’ve actually been following her on Instagram for quite some time but what I didn’t realize until last year is that she’s based in Virginia and came into her love of wine right here in the state.

We had the pleasure of meeting in person a few times in 2019, one of which was at a “Friendsgiving”

celebration that she planned to bring area wine lovers together for fellowship, food, wine, and good times. It was an amazing afternoon that spanned well into the late evening. And, as a result some new wine-loving friendships were born.

With her website, Instagram handle and “Paired” newsletter, Janelle brings us a sensible “everyday” approach to food and wine pairings. From champagne and fried chicken to Rose and Ramen, she tries it all and shares her honest “no judgement zone” reviews. Get to know a little more about Janelle and how Virginia wines opened to the door to her wine and food ventures.

Janelle Rucker, Wine & Food Influencer IG @burgerandwines / Web: / Newsletter: Paired
Q: What led you to become interested in visiting Virginia wineries/wine and sharing your experiences?

Answer: I moved to Roanoke, Virginia in 2008 and it was there that I visited my very first winery that I think was AmRhein Wine Cellars. I loved it all – from the beautiful setting to the wines to the entire tasting experience. So, from there I started visiting other wineries and wine festivals in the Southwest part of the state. But, it wasn’t until I moved to Northern Virginia and discovered all of the wineries in Loudoun County (and Paradise Springs in Clifton) that I couldn’t stop running my mouth about Virginia wines and dragging all of my friends to wineries. I started my venture Burger & Wines in October 2014 to share everyday wine pairings and Virginia wines were originally at the heart of that.

Q: Do you have a preferred Virginia wine varietal or style of wine? If so, what is it and why? If not, just tell us your favorite Virginia wine these days!

Answer: Once I learned that Viognier was Virginia’s state grape, it’s been a favorite of mine. I seek it out everywhere and can’t resist trying the many varieties of it and buying it whenever I come across one that I love. My favorite Virginia wine right now is anything that Katie makes from Casanel Vineyards & Winery, particularly the White Spark sparkling wine. It rivals any champagne you’ll find at your local wine store.

Q: Now for the tough question! If you have out of town guests who want you to take them to a Virginia winery for the day, where would you take them and why?

Answer: My guests know me well, so if we’re driving out to Loudoun County, we’re definitely going to more than one winery. First, we’d stop at Fabbioli Wines. I love, Love, LOVE that their tasting menu changes often and the tasting experience comes with perfectly paired food. They also have such a variety of wines that there’s something for every palate in the group. Then, we’d head to Casanel (Katie again!). They are so intentional with their winemaking and some people can’t believe such quality wine wasn’t made in one of the more well-known wine regions. Plus, the tasting room is so cute, and the staff is great. *** Thanks so much to Janelle for participating in this series. Her new website just launched this week so be sure to check it out and subscribe to her newsletter. Cheers!

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